Love them or hate them, tropes — commonly recurring situations across different series, for the uninitiated — are everywhere you look in fictional media. Tropes span a wide range from the classic Hero’s Journey that takes a weak and unsuspecting youth and guides them toward a great destiny, to simpler and more commonplace tropes involving miscommunication or awkward wardrobe malfunctions!
Today, we at Honey’s Anime are exploring some of our favourite tropes in romantic comedy manga, a genre filled with beloved tropes and setups that get our hearts racing and our shipping game amped up! We’ll even be recommending manga that show these tropes best, so let’s put on our comfy clothes, grab a warm drink, and indulge ourselves in these trashy-but-in-the-good-way top 5 manga rom-com tropes we can’t help but love!
5. Boarding-House Hijinks!
Starting a new phase of life is one sure-fire way to get the attention of the Rom-Com Gods — and what could be bigger than moving out of home? With new territory comes the challenge of living alone or with complete strangers!
In the world of romantic comedy, the boarding-house setup offers a perfect combination of new faces and emotions thanks to the close proximity of a dorm environment. Here in these shared hallways and bedrooms, romantic tensions rise, vulnerable feelings are exposed, and love can blossom unexpectedly!
Our top pick for this trope is Shortcake Cake, where a first-year high-school girl moves into a dorm house and finds herself drawn into a complicated love triangle!
4. Confessing Beneath Fireworks!
Here at Honey’s Anime, we’ve written before about the magical experience of post-festival fireworks, with a Top 5 Fireworks Scenes In Manga list! But today we’re more interested in the magical moments happening beneath the explosions.
Typically seen at the end of a school festival or New Year’s arc in manga, there’s something about the atmosphere of a fireworks night that draws out romantic confessions — although sometimes those confessions are cruelly interrupted by the noise of the fireworks themselves!
For a memorable confession beneath the (exploding) stars, we recommend Tonikaku Kawaii (Fly Me to the Moon) — fear not, the passionate moment happens quite early on in the series, and there’s plenty of cute romance along the way!
3. Bedridden and Vulnerable!
Coming down sick can be a nightmare, especially when there’s something important happening in your love life! Missing work meetings or school lessons are the least of your worries when there’s a new fire just waiting to blossom into a (probably hilarious) romance!
There are plenty of ‘sick day’ moments in manga that we absolutely adore, especially when it’s combined with a confession one person thinks the other party didn’t hear (Horimiya’s sick-day-scene remains one of our stalwart favourites). But what’s this list without a little comedy in the romantic-comedy?!
The most hilarious sick-day scene is undoubtedly from Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai - Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen (Kaguya-sama: Love is War). A feverish and delirious Kaguya acts like a complete child — the very opposite of her cold, ice-princess persona, and the ending result is an embarrassed Kaguya, and a confused Student Council President Shirogane!!
2. There’s Only One Futon?!
If the close proximity of a Boarding-house just isn’t enough for your romantic needs, then we have the trope for you — an impromptu sleepover with only one bed available! You can definitely bet on one character offering to sleep on the floor, and the other stubbornly insisting they share (you wouldn’t want to risk getting a cold, would you?!).
When the inevitable arguments are settled, we have the stage set for extremely close contact separated by just a few inches!! This trope is designed to force our characters together (perhaps even literally), and offer some comedic beats as well.
Our pick here is any number of the bed-sharing moments from Koi wa Tsuzuku yo doko made mo (An Incurable Case of Love), including a pivotal scene when there’s only one bed available at a work conference!
1. Fake Relationship, Real Feelings?!
How could we ever call ourselves rom-com fans without this tried and true staple? From arranged marriages to convenient lies, fake relationships always lead to genuine feelings, even if it takes the characters a long time to realize it!
And in our opinion, the very best fake relationships are those where the characters start out with a mutual dislike of each other. It’s hilarious and heart-wrenching to see our favourites bicker and argue while desperately trying to keep up their ‘happy family’ facade. Sometimes the fake relationships might be holding back a full-blown gang war (such as in Nisekoi), or it could be a sham marriage between a spy and assassin (Spy x Family)!
With so many options to choose from, our recommendation here goes to Takane to Hana (Takane and Hana), an endearing and hilarious rom-com about a high-school girl taking her older sister’s place in an arranged marriage, combining almost all of these tropes into one excellent package!
Tropes can be a blessing or a curse, but in the world of romantic comedy manga, they often serve as reliable and well-tested pillars of humor or character advancement. Sometimes a mangaka might subvert the trope in an unexpected way, and sometimes they might lean hard into the trope and base an entire story around it! Either way, these tropes are like delicious comfort food for our rom-com-loving soul!
What tropes do you like seeing in rom-com manga? Leave a comment down below, and thanks for reading!