If ever there was an anime title that completely described what a series was, My Love Story! would be it, well perhaps it would be a little more exact if it was spelled out in all bold and capital letters.
Story - 4/10
Takeo Goda is a sixteen year old boy who’s never had a girlfriend. He’s liked girls, many in fact, but they all seem to have a crush on his best friend Makoto Sunakawa. Every time Takeo builds up the nerve to ask a girl out, he finds them trying to date his friend, all of which are quickly rejected, as Sunakawa tends to overhear how these seemingly nice girls are in fact cruel when it comes to Takeo. Their mean remarks all come from the fact that Takeo is much bigger than kids his age, dwarfing most of his classmates by a good foot and a half, as well as a hundred pounds or more.
His girth has always been an impediment to Takeo, as most people run screaming from him, despite the fact he’s usually doing his best to help people out. One fateful day his size and good nature finally pay off, as he’s stops a pervert from harassing a young girl on the bus, now that girl, Rinko Yamato, see’s Takeo not as the young boy with a grown man’s body, but instead as someone with a genuinely kind heart.
After a few failed attempts to woe Takeo, as he is stuck in the belief that girls only have eyes for Makoto, Rinko finally builds up the confidence to ask him out, and for the first time in sixteen years Takeo Goda has a girlfriend, and this is their story.
The series basically plays out like a year in the life of two teens who are madly in love. They have episodes focusing on their birthdays, holidays, the typical day at the beach and different little events you would expect. Each episode plays out with pretty much the same, with Takeo being nervous or confused, Rinko being shy and Makoto showing little interest, but often saving the day with a bright idea. All the episodes had cute moments, humor that ranged from a giggle to a full on belly laugh and always a reason to make you smile.
The last few episodes they tried to insert a little storyline, with one surrounding Makoto and a girl who’s been in love with him since kindergarten, as well as one following Rinko getting a job a bakery, who’s chef is a bit smitten with her, but even those barely went anywhere. I just wish there was more to it than as straight forward a slice of life show as you can get.
Now it’s not that I didn’t like this show, it was cute and fun, it’s just that outside of the basic story, it was only little daily events without much thought put into them. I never felt as if there was some big overarching plot that was going to end in a major reveal or shocking ending. Every episode was something nice to watch, it’ll make you feel happy and good about everything, but it will never make you think.
Animation - 7/10
The character designs are well, ummmm, there I guess. I understand looking for a different style, but they went all over the place. For each group it seems as if they got inspiration from different corners of the anime world, but mixing them all together was just a little much.
First there’s Goda and his family. The three of them, along with a classmate or two, appear to be based on a few older anime series, including what looks like a huge nod to Golgo 13 for both Takeo and his dad. Added to the younger Goda’s interesting look are his giant comical lips, which bare a striking resemblance to the lips of a few FLCL characters after they ate some spicy fish eggs.
Another group whose design is a little less palatable are all the females. They look as if after they colored their faces they threw on a blur, a smudge and a brightness effect that make them all look inhumane. At a glance you’d wonder if the animators didn’t understand that in GTO when they made Fuyutsuki look like that it wasn’t supposed to be complimentary.
Really the only characters that weren’t distracting in their animation were the Sunakawa family, Makoto and Ai, but then again they were supposed to be extremely good looking. Because of that Makoto clearly looks like he was pulled from any number of reverse harem or “host” style anime series.
They did add some animation choices that I normally would be a downer on, but due to the nature of this show it worked. They had tons of little abstract art looks, including your standard chibi and one that resembles the little ghouls that haunt Sato in Welcome to the NHK. In shows where the comedy is over the top I think those choices are sometimes too much, but here it worked with the more subtle humor.
One area you could say “being all over the place” was a good thing was in the backgrounds, as this series took our characters everywhere. Schools, parks, the ocean and the forrest were just a few of the really well done locations drawn up by this team. Adding to the great animation was their ability to cover all times of day and all sources of light while never making something look out of place.
The last thing that really sticks out in this series, as it ties in to the story itself, are all the little cakes and treats either made by Rinko or seen in one of the stores. They all are very detailed and beautifully drawn, some which would really have you craving a bite.
Sound - 7/10
While I wouldn’t necessarily sit and listen to the opening, closing songs, I think they work perfectly for this series. Each one sounds as if it would find a home in any major Rom-Com film released, and although they aren’t my cup of tea, they are well made and catchy sounding. Background music was very much the same, nice and simple melodic songs that really help you get into the mood of the series.
The voices for all the characters were all matched up pretty well. Obviously the standout here is the artist who was tasked with voicing Takeo, as he had to get that huge personality spot on, and he really did. Having to hit both the big comedy moments where Takeo doesn’t quiet get the volume at which he’s speaking, and the tender ones, isn’t the easiest task, but they did a great job finding someone who had no problem with it.
Characters - 4/10
While all very likable, the characters just lacked so much, including originality, growth and complex personalities.
Takeo is the gentle giant we’ve seen so many times before. A young boy who’s always been a little misunderstood all because he’s bigger and stronger than most full grown adults. When he finally gets a girlfriend he couldn’t be more in love, too bad he isn’t really sure what being a boyfriend entails. For the entirety of the series he spends his time being google eyed for his new love, doing everything he can to try to make her happy, even if at times that means causing himself great sadness, because despite his scary outside, he’s one of the kindest characters, and the best friend you could want, in the world of anime.
The girl who finally falls for Takeo is Rinko Yamato, someone as kind and caring as Takeo, and a great pastry chef to boot! After being saved on the bus she devises a plan to have accidental meetings with Takeo, hoping he’ll ask her out, but eventually she has to do the heavy lifting. Sadly there isn’t much else going on with her character, she basically fawns over Takeo and acts shy, but outside of that there isn’t much character building going on.
The third major character of our group is Makoto Sunakawa, Takeo’s neighbor and best friend since they were five. Out of everyone in the show he’s by far the most interesting and the one who ends up having great story lines that go no where. Sunakawa is often the one to help Takeo with his problems, thinking up a solution that the scatterbrained Goda would have never seen. Much like his giant friend, Makoto is a genuinely good person who is often thinking about others instead of himself.
Although he has every girl fawning over him, he has never had a girlfriend, as so many he’s known aren’t good people, but when it seems he finally meets a girl who can rival the kind nature of Rinko, she too is rejected. They slightly insinuate that maybe he is actually in love with Takeo, but he quickly states that isn’t the case and soon his whole storyline is dropped. While I know this is a show that’s focused on Takeo and Rinko’s love, slightly more focus on Makoto could have gone a long way, as he added a little mystery and change into the series.
The high school friends of both our leads aren’t very well written, if you could call them that at all. All the boys are your typical young males who are awkward when talking to girls, and all the female students act as if they want nothing to do with them, while actually having a crush too.
We only meet a few family members throughout the course of our show. Takeo’s parents are very well written and add lots of comedy to the show. His mother is a former amateur wrestler who at times makes Takeo look like a weakling, while his father appears to be a much suaver version of the young Goda, always with a literal twinkle in his eye when he talks. The only other real significant family member is Makoto’s sister Ai, who is a few years older than the boys, but has had a crush on Takeo for years, she’s devastated when she returns home and finds Takeo has actually found a girlfriend, as that seemed like a long shot when she knew him.
While they did try to mix things up by having characters like Takeo and Makoto be completely different than what you’d expect from their looks, there just wasn’t much deeper than what we learn a few minutes into meeting every character. They’re all great, it’s just that little changes from the first to last episode, which is disappointing because are characters you want to learn more about and grow with.
Overall - 8/10
This is a show that I think is very good for those who know what they’re getting into, unlike me who looks at a genre and rating and just decides to give it a try. While many in the same camp as this can be broken down into prioritizing story and comedy over the romance element, here I feel they went a little heavy on the last, added a decent amount of comedy and just fell apart when it came to a good story.
If I was going to rate this for my personal taste, it would have been much much lower than the score I eventually gave it, but I tried to look at it from the perspective of those it was targeting, and for them I believe it is a very good show that hits all the right notes.