My Love Story!!
Episode 18

by Rose Bridges,

How would you rate episode 18 of
My Love Story!! ?

It's Takeo's birthday, and New Year's Day. It's also right after Takeo and Yamato found out that their newly-coupled friends have already experienced their first kiss. This puts the pressure on our established couple who, despite months together, haven't jumped that hurdle quite yet. So that's the focus of this week's episode: kissing, how they want it, and how they're going to go about it.

It's important to note that kissing is a bigger deal in Japan than it is in America. Japan is a much more private culture that frowns on public displays of affection. Even married couples don't kiss around people they don't know. So kissing is seen as much more intimate, and it can take a young couple longer to get to that point. That's especially true with hormonal teenagers in their first romance.

Keeping that in mind, it makes a little more sense that Takeo plans to save it for "the autumn of his third year" of high school. Still, it says a lot about him that he has this planned down to the minute, and with the assumption that even doing it a few months earlier would be "too soon." For all his big, goofy attitude, Takeo is a very planned person. He doesn't go for spontaneity; he has it foisted upon him by others, particularly Yamato. He sees it as his duty to set these expectations—but he's way off base about what is normally expected. Kisses are supposed to be somewhat spontaneous events.

Yamato realizes this. Still, she frets over how to go about it. She's less worried about abstract expectations and more about the advice of her network of friends. So having a new couple beat her and Takeo to the first kiss is a big deal and it makes her fret over what that means to her relationship. She sets off to change it—or at least find out if Takeo is willing to change it, and why or why not.

One thing I liked is it was only briefly about whether it was "appropriate" for the girl to be the one initiating the first kiss—and that was mostly about "would Takeo like it?" Yamato is a girl who likes to take initiative, and everyone around her is fine with this. Suna tells Yamato about Takeo's weird "autumn of third year" stipulation, but also says that if she just goes for it, that would melt away and Takeo would enjoy it. She decides on that as part of her insistence on making Takeo's birthday memorable. And of course, Suna is exactly right.

Naturally, that's not the full story. In true My Love Story!! fashion, even the first kiss—the most straightforward thing in the world—is silly and complicated. Yamato plans the perfect cake and perfect gift, and then waits for Takeo to close his eyes to make his birthday wish. She leans over to kiss him, waiting—with the audience—to see how he reacts. And then…he doesn't. He goes on as normal, and Yamato wonders if he even noticed the kiss. We learn the truth when he recounts his birthday to Suna later, talking about how a "big, wet, soft" bug landed on his lips when his eyes were closed.

Luckily, Suna figures it out, enlightens Takeo, and then our hero rushes over to Yamato to make their first kiss right. Even the humor eventually melts into mushiness, and Takeo and Yamato's first intentional (from both ends) kiss is as romantic as it gets. The message here is that maybe the first of something isn't the milestone.

My Love Story!! episodes follow familiar patterns, even in "milestone" episodes like this one. They vacillate between humor and fluff, with self-contained stories that build up to a climax of one or both of those. Still, as a whole, My Love Story!! is like nothing else on TV. Its special combination of the funny and the heartwarming always puts a smile on my face. And maybe it's the point that Takeo and Yamato's first kiss episode shouldn't be any different from any of the others. Milestones aren't what's important. It's how you get there that counts.

Rating: A-

My Love Story!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Rose is a music Ph.D. student who loves overanalyzing anime soundtracks. Follow her on her media blog Rose's Turn.

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