My Love Story!!
by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 22 of
My Love Story!! ?
My Love Story!! is often an emotional show, but rarely is it an emotional rollercoaster. I don't remember feeling this way since Suna's dad was in the hospital, way back in the first cour. This week's installment made me feel really happy, then really sad, then something like happy again? At least I was relieved.
Yukika finally got to go on her date with Sunakawa to the zoo. Of course, it was technically a double date with Yamato and Takeo, and she uses it to cower behind them because she's too nervous to talk to Suna. Luckily, Takeo and Yamato nudge her in the right direction, and she does end up sharing her vast store of animal knowledge with him. They enter a trivia contest, and Yukika dominates, winning the prize for her and Suna. He's clearly impressed by this, and it gives her and the audience warm fuzzies.
However, it doesn't end up as rosy as it starts. Suna tells her at school that he liked hanging out with her at the zoo, but it's clear that somewhere in that talk, he let her down. Yukika is in tears, insisting that Suna was just nice to her because he's a nice person, and she should never have confessed to him. She even shuns Takeo and Yamato in her shame. As the audience, we know this can't be true; Suna turned down the other girls, the ones who made fun of his best friend, way more harshly than he did Yukika. He didn't even agree to go on dates with them to test it out, like he did with her. Yamato and Takeo reassure her of this, that the good memories they made were worth it and she can still be everyone's friend. Suna makes things up to her by buying her a journal in response to all her years of chocolate, managing to get exactly what she wanted. It's still kind of a downer, but not an unhappy ending.
This episode hit really close to home for me. I was a lot like Yukika when I was in high school. I was outspoken in class and other places where I got to show off my knowledge. However, I turned to mush when it came to people I liked, and I certainly could never tell them how I felt. More often, they found out because I acted so obvious around them. I was paralyzed by fear of rejection. So the way that My Love Story!! handles rejection was powerful and soothing. I'm not as awkward as I was as a teenager—partly because when I've learned to speak up, my experience has been more like Yukika's. There's always a silver lining, and you should meet life's challenges in the hopes that you'll find it even if things don't turn out perfect.
This is another reminder of how fantastic and refreshing My Love Story!!'s realism can be. Even with its silly visual humor and puns (Takeo constantly mishears "prime time" this week, which reminded me of Polar Bear's Café), My Love Story!! remains grounded in the reality of high school life and romance. So naturally, one of its love stories would have to end up in tears. Even so, it ends it on a happy note by reminding us that good things can still come from confessing your feelings, even if it doesn't work out the way you want. If the person is worthy of your affection, they'll be good to you even if they turn you down. You could still end up with a great friend—or at least, some great memories.
And who knows? Maybe down the line, as Suna and Yukika get to know each other better as friends—and Yukika gets over some of her jitters—he'll develop more feelings for her. Even if they don't, it could still be the start of a beautiful friendship. Either way, it's better than wondering forever what could happen, if Yukika had never told him. Props to Suna too, for being honest about his feelings and rejecting her directly in a nice way. Being direct is good no matter which side you're on, minimizing confusion and regrets.
At the end, Yukika notes that Suna "loves Takeo." She's not clear on what kind of love that is, at least based on the English subtitles. I wouldn't be surprised if it's purposefully ambiguous for fangirl bait. Takeo certainly takes it that way—but he's obviously fine with it even though he loves Yamato. Friendship is not such a bad end, even if it's not always the one we want the most. That's a great message for anime fans, who can be more socially-awkward than most.
Escapist romance can be nice, and My Love Story!! certainly offers its fair share of escapism. At the same time, it's great when an anime can offer lessons that teens might actually take with them into the real world. As My Love Story!! shows, it's really not that scary out there after all. You can only achieve your dream romance if you go for it.
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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