Ah, love, sweet love. Anime has science-fiction, action, fantasy, horror, and realistic drama, and it often, in the midst of any genre, also has love. Here is our unscientific and wholly subjective list of the top 10 anime couples of anime and manga.
10. Sorata and Arashi, from X: the TV series. These two may be the “darkest” couple on the list, but only because X is such a heady blend of supernatural, good vs. evil, and universal stakes. It takes an Ice Queen like Arashi to sort out the womanizing Sorata, and you’re rooting for them from the first moment. If only they stay alive long enough to enjoy it… (Buy X on DVD from Amazon…)
9. Tenchi and Ryokoâ€¦ or Ayeka from Tenchi Muyo!. I know, I knowâ€¦ I can hear the groans from here. But you have to admit that the question of which damsel would win the fair hero Tenchi kept people wondering and fighting for years. Whether you pull for the hot-headed space-pirate Ryoko or the powerful space-princess Ayeka, Tenchi hopes to prove that he’s not only some chosen alien-human hybrid able to save the world (repeatedly), but maybe even a good man. Setting the standard for harem comedies for years to come, Tenchi wins either way. (Buy Tenchi Muyo stuff from Amazon…)
8. Kyo Sohma and Tohru Honda of Fruits Basket. In a dark, depressing anime, Tohru’s gritty, determined cheerfulness might just be the only light, and it does not go unappreciated by the abused, neglected cat Kyo. Of course, some readers/viewers would prefer to see Tohru with “the Prince,” Yuki, that’s just tough. It’s the “one who was never loved” who needs love the most, and Tohru is the only one strong enough to love the alley-cat Kyo. (Buy Fruits Basket stuff from Amazon…)
7. Miaka Yuki and Tamahome from Fushigi Yugi. They may make everyone’s favorite couple’s list, but there’s a good reason for that. They struggle, they fight, they overcome. They may not be the cutest (Syaoran and Sakura, anyone?) or the hottest couple (maybe Amon and Robin, or Mars’ Rei and Kira), but they are definitely the most undying. The situations they face are legitimately heartbreaking and testing, and they’ve earned their place on the list. (Buy Fushigi Yugi stuff from Amazon…)
6. Spike Spiegel and Julia from Cowboy Bebop. They may be doomed from the beginning, and Julia may not actually feature very much in the show per se, but her specter haunts Spike and informs the action from beginning to end, or from end to end, depending upon how you view the chronology of the show. Julia’s personality can even be said to live on, in some ways, in Faye Valentine, another strong-willed woman Spike can’t help but like. (Buy Cowboy Bebop stuff from Amazon…)
5. Kyoko and Godai from Maison Ikkoku. Godai is part hapless romantic comedy hero and part everyman; who doesn’t sympathize with the earnest young man stuck trying over and over to get into college so he can make a life for himself? Meanwhile, he falls in love with his slightly older gorgeous landlady, the gentle, intelligent widow Kyoko. A classic of comedy, drama, and anime in general, Kyoko and Godai show how convoluted the road to true love can be. (Buy Maison Ikkoku stuff from Amazon…)
4. Kaoru Kamiya and Himura Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin. In the middle of this most shonen of shonen samurai series, there lies a gentle romance. Whether you prefer the OAV or the manga ending, their romance endures over years and survives Kenshin’s wanderings, his violent past, constant danger, and maybe even life-ending diseases. In a show with a theme of redemption and the assertion of life in the face of death-mongering, their romance serves to affirm the basic humanity of even the most dangerous of characters. (Buy Rurouni Kenshin stuff from Amazon…)
3. Kagome Higurashi and Inuyasha from InuYasha. Bravely loving even the most frustrating and irritating of demon-dogs, Kagome manages to survive and even transcend possibly being a reincarnation of InuYasha’s lost love, Kikyo, who herself shows up to create a nice, tidy love triangle. However, it’s clear from the beginning that Kagome is a much better match for InuYasha than Kikyo is. Despite the best efforts of Koga, InuYasha’s wolf-demon rival, a host of demons who want to defeat InuYasha and/or eat Kagome, and the machinations of the nefarious Naraku, the pair triumphs. An amusing side-couple is that of the businesslike Sango and the womanizing monk Miroku; often used for comic relief, they are themselves quite an interesting couple and a good match. (Buy InuYasha stuff from Amazon…)
2. Deedlit and Parn, from Record of Lodoss War. A classic: a knight and his lady, a human and an elf, a fighter and a magic-user. Deedlit and Parn set the standard for subtle, under-spoken but definite love stories for ages to come. We didn’t have to see love scenes or babies to know that they would die for each other, and that Deed might just pull an Arwen and die with her short-lived human beloved. (Buy Record of Lodoss War stuff from Amazon…)
1. Ranma and Akane from Ranma Â½. This couple is as prototypical as it gets. Akane is a spitfire, loved by Ranma for the very reasons he can’t bring himself to admit he even likes her, while Ranma is as reliable as the wind and as impossible to tame. Anything less would bore her as much as the viewers. Though they both have umpteen-gazillion rivals, they muddle through and, not unlike Takahashi’s Kagome and InuYasha, clearly fall in love over the length of the series. You never stop rooting for them, even when you, like their partner, want to strangle one or both of them. Highlights include the OAVs An Akane to Remember and The Two Akanes, Ranma, Look At Me! What can we say? Takahashi knows how to write squabbling lovers who are also equals and interesting. (Buy Ranma Â½ stuff from Amazon…)
The character of love in both anime and manga is as varied and different as the titles themselves, delving into forbidden love, desperate love, sweet love, young love, first love, and final love, but just like the real world, no two people are exactly alike, and no romance will be exactly like another. Anime and manga both have an ability to insert romance into titles that may not seem to be a natural for it, and yet it works. The above ten barely scratch the surface of the variety and styles possible, but they are my favorites, and maybe they can inspire you to find your own favorites.