My Love Story!! Episode 7
by Rose Bridges,
There are a lot of good episodes of My Love Story!! so far. This week is no exception. However, it's hard to beat Episode 7 when it comes to the sweetest or most memorable episodes. It's based on a simple plot: Takeo joins a school club so he can use his strength to help them win. Along the way, we get to see what makes the show so special among shojo romances.
First of all, there's the humor. My Love Story!! has always been a winner in that regard, but these jokes are especially fun. I like that instead of constantly pointing out Takeo's size, the show gently reminds us with gags about him using a beach umbrella in the rain. There's no overstated punchline, you're just supposed to put two and two together and figure it out.
The episode is also all about Takeo and Yamato's personalities, and why they work well together. It fleshes out how powerful their feelings are for each other, without making them feel unrealistically perfect. They feel like real teenagers as they stumble around with just how much they like each other. They're both wrestling big feelings that they don't know what to do with yet, and they also have to juggle the rest of the world's reaction. Yamato dealt with that in the fire episode, and this week, Takeo must do the same with his judo opponent's reaction.
It's really strange how rare it feels to have a series about the issues with established relationships. For a culture that so heavily emphasizes everyone pairing off into long-term couples, our media is so focused on the getting-together stage and never the relationship that follows it. This is especially true with stuff aimed at teenagers where, to be fair, most of the fun is in that initial rush of feelings. However, even adults obsess over the meet-cute, proposal, and wedding, and never the life those people build together later. We dismiss all that as "happily ever after," when it's rarely the case. Even people as perfectly suited for each other as Takeo and Yamato can have bumps along the road. Confessing your feelings is a relief at first, but things can still be awkward even after you know you like each other.
I found it especially refreshing that Yamato still frets over whether Takeo likes her enough. It seems so illogical to the audience, but if you've ever been a teenage girl, you know that feeling and the obsessive behavior that leads to it. (Suna tells her she's overanalyzing things, but that's pretty much the default mental state for young people in love.) It's not something that goes away when your crush becomes your significant other, either. Those obsessive feelings can be a lot of fun too, like when Yamato looks at the stars and all she sees is Takeo. Of course, Takeo has the same reaction in reverse, seeing Yamato everywhere. Thinking of the same person all the time can be irritating, but it can also be thrilling. It's that pleasant place you can always go to when the world is getting you down. That's what Takeo means when he says that Yamato helped him triumph in the judo tournament.
I think it's interesting that while we were all rooting for Takeo to prove his closed-minded opponent wrong, he didn't really do that. Being in a relationship can be distracting. That's why Takeo had to stay away from Yamato while he trained. It can get in the way of more important goals. On the other hand, it can also give you something to fight for. It can be its own goal. When Takeo fights, he fights for love as well as his school and the thrill of competition, and that's why he wins.
This makes the episode incredibly romantic. It's rooted in the dilemmas teenagers deal with in the real world, not just in shojo manga. Takeo and Yamato react like actual kids we've all known or been at some point in our life. I was a little worried about how My Love Story!! would last for a full two cours. I'm less worried now after this episode. If the show keeps sticking to real-life situations and stays away from shojo clichés, that should keep it running as long as it wants to go.
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