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My Love Story!!
Episode 4

by Rose Bridges,

Getting the main couple together is always a risk. Fans may passionately appeal for their ships to become canon, but rarely do they actually want what they think they want. They want the fateful confession and first kiss, but not so much the aftermath. Thank goodness that My Love Story!! isn't interested in playing it safe that way. Rather than circle the drain with more jokes about how clueless Takeo is, Suna intervened and got the two lovebirds together last week. "My Boyfriend" is the first episode all about our newly established couple, and it's promising for this story going forward.

For all its over-the-top physical humor (like Takeo's faces), My Love Story!! is very interested in realism, at least in the sense of shattering misconceptions about romance that are common in fiction. One of those is the idea that once two people get together, all the awkwardness melts away and it's smooth sailing from then on out. This is a nice fantasy for the romantically frustrated, made universal by the "happily-ever-after" marriage endings of fairy tales. However, anyone who's ever found out that their crush returned their affections knows it's nonsense. There's a nervous anticipation that comes from putting your cards on the table, and having all these feelings but not knowing what to do with them. Early on in this episode, My Love Story!! makes it clear that's the case with Takeo and Yamato. They still get flustered around each other very easily. Getting together with the person you like isn't a magical formula that removes all your insecurities. It can remove some, though—like when Takeo realizes that he doesn't care so much about others' judgments now that he has Yamato.

Overall, the series is very rooted in the realities of teenage romance. This extends to the root of its central conflict, and I don't mean the cliché shojo stuff about romantic rivals. The conflict this week comes from Yamato introducing Takeo and Suna to her friends, a much more relateable issue in the image-conscious world of high school. I love that Yamato is blissfully unaware of how other people would react to Takeo's appearance. Takeo more than proves their assumptions about him wrong later in the episode (but more on that in a moment). It's also true to how teenage crushes affect you. No matter their imperfections, the person you like looks like the sexiest, coolest person in the world to you. That can even change your assessment of how others would see them. That said, I was a little disappointed, though not surprised, when Suna was right about how nice people don't necessarily have nice friends. Yamato is sweet and forgiving, but I couldn't really see her befriending the sort of cliquish jerks her pals turned out to be.

My Love Story!! may be more grounded than most shojo romances, but it's still very much a fantasy. Takeo gets to play the prince later in the episode when a restaurant catches on fire, and two of Yamato's friends are trapped inside. Because Takeo is selfless, and also has superhuman strength and survival powers, he rushes in to save them in spite of their earlier cruelty to him. This inevitably results in Yamato's despair in the moment, and the girls reversing their opinions after Takeo succeeds. It still plays it slightly truer to life than most; Yamato's friends blush a little over Takeo at first, then immediately switch to "Wait, what am I thinking?"

The series' awareness of both genre conventions and teenage behavior makes up a lot of why it's so appealing. It would be strong enough if it stuck to its premise of "angry-looking beefy guy gets the girl instead of being the single best friend." There are multiple layers to this show's comedy and commentary, and that's why it feels so refreshing. Combined with its incredibly likable characters and impressive technical values, I expect this series will continue to stay strong as it heads into riskier territory. This is especially true if it handles this episode-by-episode, rather than constructing longer storylines. I've heard some less promising things about where the manga takes their relationship, and I hope the TV series doesn't go there and instead keeps taking chances.

Even with a burning building and Takeo risking his life, this episode wasn't the thrill ride of previous weeks. An established relationship might never provide the heart-pounding energy of unresolved tension. However, My Love Story!! is better for this change. It's a sweet-hearted fantasy, and it's more likely to be a memorable one if it follows its own path.

Rating: A-

My Love Story!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Rose is a musicologist who studies film music. She writes about anime and many other topics on Autostraddle.com, her blog and her Twitter.

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