Love is a wonderful thing. When you are in love, everything is beautiful and you want everyone to feel the same way. However, there are some steps before you get the absolute happiness that is being with your romantic partner, and that is the strenuous part of the courtship. Sometimes you may not know if the other person shares your feelings, other times, you can be sure they do, but you’re not sure you’re ready to be a couple. There are many variables, which make courtships very interesting in fiction.
In anime, we have a lot of different courtships: violent and explosive, sweet and quiet, and everything in between. Some of the most popular anime of all time are about the difficulties that a couple has to suffer to be together: from their different personalities to the fact that everyone and their uncle are invested on seeing them break up or get married.
So let’s talk about some of the greatest courtships in anime, be it because they really went above and beyond to fight for their right to be together, or because they’re so sweet only a complete monster would want to see them apart.
10. Misaki Ayuzawa and Takumi Usui from Kaichou wa Maid Sama (Maid Sama!)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2010 – September 2010
If there’s anyone who can hate men without sounding crazy, it’s Misaki Ayuzawa. Her father left her, her mother, and sisters without any way to support themselves, which forced her to find a job at a Maid Café, even if that goes against the rules of her school. Speaking of her school, it used to be an all-boys high-school that just recently became co-ed and she managed to become the first female student council president to make sure every misbehaving boy would change their ways. And she has managed to keep her double life secret, until Takumi Usui, one of the most popular boys in her school happens to walk into the maid café and promptly starts blackmailing her: he will keep her secret, as long as she spends time with him.
While blackmail is not a really good way to start a relationship, later on, we find out that Takumi had been watching Misaki from afar, and that a lot of his actions are also to protect her from other guys who can be less nice than him. While Misaki can defend herself from many dangers –as the former gang known as the Three Idiots can attest- that doesn’t mean she can do it alone, or that she doesn’t also feel something for Takumi. Soon, it becomes more about how Misaki can’t keep fooling herself, and how far Takumi will go to show his love.
9. Youta Moteuchi and Ai Amano from Video Girl Ai
- Episodes: 6
- Aired: March 1992 – August 1992
When Youta Moteuchi played Ai’s tape on his broken VCR, he wasn’t expecting her to come out through the TV to fulfill the promise of her tape box: I will console you. However, as she was played in a broken device, she is not like a normal Video Girl, and can also fall in love. Because of this, she fell in love with Youta and was having a lot of problems helping him to get together with Moemi, the girl whom Youta originally loved. It’s a very complex love triangle, where Youta at times doesn’t realize that his personality alone is enough to make any girl who is paying attention to fall in love with him.
Video Girl Ai is one of those now classic anime that people know more by word of mouth than because they watched it. While the manga goes a lot longer than the anime, it’s the anime which managed to capture those who watched it. It’s the small things, like Ai making food for Youta even if she slices her fingers every other cut, and then Youta eating it despite the fact that Ai hid it because Moemi came to make dinner for them, or Ai happy to have a day with Youta where they would be together without worrying about anything else and naming it “A day with Youta wearing the dress he bought me", what makes this couple so adorable and memorable.
8. Suzaku Kururugi and Euphemia Li Britannia from Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2006 – July 2007
On paper, Suzaku and Euphemia were the most perfect couple that the empire of Britannia had ever seen, and the ones who would’ve brought peace to the Japanese people and the Britannia Empire. From the moment they met, when she literally fell from the sky while escaping from invisible enemies, you can tell they are completely in love with each other. Despite Suzaku being an eleven, a second-class citizen, and Euphemia being a princess of the Empire and close to the throne’s succession, she championed him to become her knight. With his help, she was trying to make sure that the war between Elevens and Britannia came to an end.
In any other story, they would’ve succeeded. They were perfect to each other, even managing to finish each other’s sentences when talking at the same time. Despite their huge class differences, Euphemia never tried to force Suzaku into anything: even the orders she gave him in public were previously agreed to by him, and most of the time were things he was already planning to do so her ordering him was just part of their relationship, her way to protect him somehow. They were the Romeo and Juliet of the Code Geass’ universe, whose courtship also caught the viewers and made the end of their relationship even more tragic.
7. Mashiro Moritaka and Miho Azuki from Bakuman
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2010 – April 2011
In the old days, some couples courted each other by letter, without once crossing words because of social rules. Mashiro Moritaka and Miho Azuki, however, do so because they want to show the strength of their conviction to their dreams. Mashiro wants to be a mangaka, while Miho wants to be a voice actress, so they promise not to see or talk to each other until Mashiro has a hit manga that can turn into an anime so that Miho can be the voice actress of the main character.
Despite how strange their relationship sounds since both are not only dedicated to their dream but also have promised to marry each other when they reach their goals, it's one of the sweetest parts of the series. While others have a lot of problems in their own romantic endeavors, Masahiro and Miho keep in touch through letters, emails, and texts, and thus avoid any misunderstandings. Even when Masahiro is in the hospital and people insist she has to see him, she refuses; not out of hate, but because she knows that he’ll get better and fulfill his promise to her. It’s that strength of conviction what makes them such a perfect couple.
6. Sawako Kuronuma and Shouta Kazehaya from Kimi ni Todoke (Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2009 – March 2010
Shouta Kazehaya is one of the most popular guys in his school, so no one really understands why he keeps speaking up in favor of Sawako “Sadako” Kuronuma, a scary looking girl that is usually the target of a lot of bullying. It’s not that Sawako is not kind, in fact, those few who have talked to her for enough time have discovered that she is very eager to help those in need, but she is fast to jump to conclusions and is completely convinced no one can love her. And that may be a bit frustrating for Shouta, who is obviously in love with her.
They’re one of the most “Traditional” courtships on the list, as most of the work is done by Shouta trying to show Sawako how much he loves her. While Sawako had already decided she wanted to change and make more friends, it’s his support and friendship that help her take the extra step and stand up for herself. One of the greatest things about seeing them get together is how they help each other grow to become better people. And although their courtship is long, and at times you want to yell at Sawako for not realizing her feelings, it’s still very sweet.
5. Li Syaoran and Sakura Kinomoto from Cardcaptor Sakura
- Episodes: 70
- Aired: April 1998 – March 2000
One would think that when you have to chase magical cards and ensure that you are the absolute heir of an old magician, romance is not precisely the priority. But when the card hunters are starting their teenage years, it's impossible to avoid. However, neither Sakura nor Sayoran realize their feelings for each other even as everyone around them starts noticing how their friendship is turning into love. Sure, Sakura had a crush on Yukito, her brother’s best friend, and Sayoran seemed affected by the magic inside of Yukito, but that was not enough to throw everyone off the scent.
The most adorable part of this particular relationship is that, at first, neither of them realize how much the other means to them. We get to see them fall in love little by little, and how they start courting the other without even noticing they’re doing it. The way in which both realize their feelings and then hesitate to make them known to the other is one of the many reasons why everyone was happy to see the young couple return in Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card Hen so we can see how their relationship evolved.
4. Belldandy and Keiichi Morisato from Aa! Megami-sama! (Oh My Goddess!!)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: January 2005- July 2005
When Keiichi Morisato accidentally dialed the Goddess Heavenly Helpline instead of a nearby pizza place he couldn’t know he would become one of the protagonists of the love story of the millennium. From the moment when he asked Belldandy for “a goddess like her to stay at his side forever”, he started the longest courtship ever put to anime form, as we follow them in their daily lives as both try to gather the courage to be completely honest with their feelings to each other.
The romance/courtship between Belldandy and Keiichi is quite famous for being the longest “Will they, won’t they” in anime where we already know that they will end up together at some point but still don’t know when or how. While that can be a bit tiresome to some viewers, the truth is that most fans loved the long road to the moment where the pair of lovers could finally be together without challenges. It’s a nice reminder that sometimes the courtship is not just about making your partner fall in love with you, but also winning the approval of their family.
3. Winry Rockbell and Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: April 2009 – July 2010
Childhood friends usually end up together. That’s something that has become a bit of a rule in anime so we, as viewers, know what to expect. Winry Rockbell and Edward Elric are one of those couples since their story is also a shonen story where romance is not exactly the priority. After all, when you are trying to find a forbidden alchemy technique to get your body and your brother’s back to normal, there’s not much time to woo the girl you love. And Winry has no time to wait for Ed either. She wants to be the best automail specialist in the kingdom and is working hard to become that. Sure, she started her path to help Ed keep his arm and leg in working order but, in time, she learned to love her work.
The beauty of Winry and Ed’s courtship is that is very subtle. We only get to see them together at very short intervals, usually starting when Ed has broken his arm or leg again and thus Winry is furious with him. And yet, the love they feel for each other is quite obvious. And there's a lot to say about that great moment where once everything has been said and done, Ed finally asks Winry to marry him the only way he knows how: By pledging her half his life, in an equivalent exchange.
2. Victor Nikiforov and Yuri Katsuki from Yuri!!! on Ice
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2016 – December 2016
At first sight, one may think that Victor Nikiforov took the idea of courtship a bit too far and a bit too aggressive when it came to courting Yuri Katsuki, when all Yuri did was to repeat a routine that had been done by Victor –five-time world champion of ice skating- and that is not really a reason for Victor to suddenly leave his home in Russia to become Yuri’s mentor and help him win the Grand Prix. Much less to make his offering while naked at Yuri’s family bath-house, but that’s what Victor did to start his relationship with Yuri.
Most of the series show how Victor’s over the top personality bewilders Yuri, who, yes, admires and even loves Victor and has done so from afar for a long time, but can’t be as open and wild as Victor is in part because he’s naturally shy, and in part because of how he was raised. They make a cute couple, and it’s impossible not to cheer for them, even if one may be worried that Victor can sweep Yuri off his feet easily. And this is what makes the series’ reveal of why Victor left everything to woo Yuri so perfect, and a very good reason to include their courtship in our list.
1. Rinko Yamato and Takeo Gouda from Ore Monogatari!! (My Love Story!!)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2015 - September 2015
Takeo Gouda is the perfect example of a gentle giant. He is quite strong and doesn't look like a high-school student, but at the same time, he is always ready to use his strength to help anyone who needs him. Unfortunately, not many people see this side of him, and girls tend to run away and speak ill of him behind his back. All girls except Rinko Yamato, who, after Takeo saves her from a molester on the train home, starts trying to hang out with him and get to know him better. The problem is that Takeo is convinced Rinko is only around because she likes Takeo’s best friend, Makoto, and thus decides that he will do his best to make sure that Rinko and Makoto are happy together.
There are a lot of misunderstandings on the road to Rinko and Takeo’s happiness together, but it’s one of the most heartwarming situations, not only because Rinko sees past Takeo’s looks and right into his heart, but because we also have a wonderful friendship between Takeo and Makoto –who, we learn later, refuses to date any of the girls who swoon over him precisely because they badmouth Takeo and he can’t be with someone who does that to his best friend. There’s a lot to love as we get to know the trio, and once everyone is on the same page, the reward is as sweet as the road that got us there.
There are many ways to meet and woo the love of your life, and great stories are written about those methods. Sometimes, the meeting may not be perfect, and one –or both partners- aren't quite sure about how to proceed with the courtships. Sometimes, the meeting is disastrous, and the following dates aren't much better, but love manages to prevail.
With that in mind, which are your favorite courtships in anime? Which anime character would make you fall in love instantly the same way they conquered their partners? Let us know in the comments below.