My Love Story!!
by Rose Bridges,
How would you rate episode 24 of
My Love Story!! ?
Despite all the drama and foreboding of the previous episode, My Love Story!! ultimately decided to commit itself to an extremely cute and satisfying conclusion. It tied up our final subplot and put the cap on Takeo and Yamato's relationship development, what little there has been over the course of the show. They're still as sweet, generous, and forgiving as they were in the beginning, but there have been little changes here and there. This episode showcases a few of those changes and piles on the mushiness.
Of course, this episode would be a lot mushier if it weren't so easy to see where it was going. As soon as Ichinose's "Rinko will help me in the competition and I'll tell her how I feel afterward" plot is established, we already know how it's going to end: she'll feel flattered but pick Takeo. There's never any doubt in the viewers' minds that Yamato prefers her current boyfriend. Heck, if you had doubts to begin with, this episode goes out of its way to do away with them. Takeo comes to Yamato's mind—and out of her mouth—even when she and Ichinose are talking about completely unrelated things. The girl has got it bad, and no amount of Ichinose's baking talent is going to undo that. Love can't be defeated that easily.
It's interesting that Ichinose is every bit as delusional about his high chances as Takeo is about his low chances. Takeo seems convinced that Ichinose winning the competition means his romance with Yamato is over, and he seems genuinely shocked when she chooses him over Ichinose. On the other hand, Ichinose seems convinced that no matter how much Yamato gushes about her boyfriend, she'll see the light when he wins and pick him. Ichinose also reduces Yamato to a "muse" for him, while Takeo appreciates her whole self. Ichinose is still largely sympathetic though, because his feelings just mask another kind of insecurity over his pastry-making abilities. He's always been nervous about showing them off, so the reason he gets so stuck on Yamato is because she's the person who gives him the encouragement to get over that. Ichinose mistakes that encouragement and admiration for love, which is not uncommon for younger people without much previous relationship experience. Oh well. It seems like things work out well enough for him, given that he continues making his own cakes and selling them at the shop in the epilogue.
Weirdly, Takeo doesn't feel as insecure or heartbroken as he did last week. Maybe it's because all his scenes spent pondering the possibility that Yamato might leave him are intercut with Suna cheering him on. Suna's not worried, because like the audience, Suna knows this couple too well not to know how things will happen. He knows Yamato is in love with Takeo. I also think the framing of this whole subplot is a little odd. The tone is too serene whenever Takeo thinks about Yamato choosing Ichinose over him. He was seriously broken up and jealous about it last week, but while he does some jealous things (like spy on her), the mood of the visuals and music doesn't give us that feeling. It doesn't hurt that Takeo helps Ichinose win the competition by wishing him good luck, cheering him on, and even grabbing the tools he left behind. Of course, that's just how Takeo is. He's grown a lot as a person through the course of his relationship with Yamato, but he's still a selfless and superhuman do-gooder deep down. That's good, because that's what Yamato loves about him, and Ichinose doesn't have those qualities.
Even if the ending was predictable—Ichinose wins the competition, but Yamato chooses Takeo—the show still does its best to milk the moment for all it's worth. The moment where Yamato picks Takeo is drawn out in loving detail, with Takeo reminiscing over soft, romantic lighting and background effects. It's not too different from how this show has dealt with other romantic revelations, but it's nothing less than I'd expect from a moment like this. Less predictably, the episode ends with Takeo calling Yamato by her first name, getting a sweet blush from her in response. It's the perfect cherry on top of a sweet, if not remarkable, finale. The credits epilogue is also sweet, as we see how everyone moves forward in their own merry way in the future.
Actually, the most surprising part of the episode might be that Yamato explicitly voices her preference for Takeo at all. The more typical thing for anime romances is that the rival becomes so impressed by the sweet-as-pie true pairing's resolve that he backs off, deciding not to confess his feelings after all. That's been par for the course even in My Love Story!!, with our perfect and impressive core trio dissuading outside love confessions at every turn. Thankfully, Ichinose is just enough of a jerk that it doesn't happen again, so Yamato got to take a stand for her own feelings. In general, it's very refreshing that My Love Story!! continues to exhibit Yamato's agency. She didn't just end up with Takeo because he was in the right place at the right time. She isn't just going along with their relationship because he's sweet. She really, really likes him, and she'll fight for their relationship as much as—even more than—he will. That's not something you often see in a shojo heroine.
My Love Story!! has consistently excelled by breaking all the rules for shojo romances. However, it doesn't break its own rules too much, which is where it can stall out. Episode 23 set us up for a climactic, heartrending finale, but opted to waltz offstage with a smile on its face instead. That's okay, though. Not every show has to be full of drama and play around with viewers' feelings. Shojo has enough of those already. My Love Story!! can be a sweet, healing anime—with just enough guts to stand out from the rest. While I wish this episode had a bit more punch to it, it put a smile on my face in a way I'll never forget, and there's not much more I can ask for from My Love Story!!
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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