My Love Story has already firmly planted a flag claiming its territory among a market saturated with droll slice of life teen romances. It’s far from perfect in almost every facet you can judge, yet it somehow manages to pull together into an impressively endearing tale just in time to stoke a little spring fever.
This is a show that’s difficult to approach without prejudging it based on aesthetics. It’s nearly impossible to find screenshots from Love Story that make it look appealing because visually, it just isn’t. The animation quality is often poor and the characters look ridiculous even in the most detailed frames. It only takes a couple episodes to see that this is (mostly) a stylistic choice used to convey a focused story. Takeo is supposed to look like a bland gorilla. Suna is supposed to glitter in the sun like his last name is Cullen. Yamato is supposed to look like a sparkling deer in headlights. The backgrounds are supposed to….ah, okay, the backgrounds are indescribably lazy. At least they’re lazy in a way that isn’t horribly detracting considering the intense focus on the characters. Overly intense. Maybe blink for us sometimes, Yamato.
The low quality isn’t limited to the animation. The intro song is pleasant but the opening is standard character pans and short, stilted animation loops that are meaningless until you know the characters. Once you do know the characters, you can skip the entire opening and feel no loss. The end roll is both visually and aurally an affront to the senses and there’s no episode preview to make it worth sitting through.
The episodes themselves roll by quickly. We’re not tortured with a whole season culminating in a last-episode hook-up. After Takeo saves Yamato from a pervert on the subway, their infatuation with one another becomes immediately clear and their romance moves along speedily. Despite some heavy-handed metaphors, the pace of the plot will make Love Story a great feel-good sick day binge. Because there’s no preview after the credits, you’re left wanting to just watch the next episode to see where things go. What happens when the initial infatuation wears off? How will they handle disagreements? Is it even possible for them to mate without Yamato dying?
While the viewer doesn’t yet know much of Yamato’s history, Takeo is an easy read. His bromance foil, Suna, is the male model-tier of guy who can turn women into stuttering messes just by looking at them. Takeo, on the other hand, has been spurned so many times that when Yamato asks him on a date and makes him heart-shaped cakes he still assumes she must be trying to get at Suna. Fortunately, that nonsense doesn’t last long. Suna, who has rejected dozens of girls for treating his best friend poorly, knows a good catch when he sees one and plays matchmaker for Beauty and the Beast.
Suna is not only a fantastic foil for Takeo, he says what we want to scream at the television. It’s easy to forget that these characters — contrary to anime tropes of making everyone fifteen — are actually fifteen for a reason. It’s a love story about a first-timer, after all. It’s easy to go into old man mode and forget what it was like to be that age. While Takeo and Yamato are reveling in uninteresting commonalities like the fact that both enjoying spring, Suna serves as a much needed, well-grounded voice of reason. If you can sit back and let him be the codger in your stead, you’re likely to avoid some wistfulness. Suna allows us to get swept away in the good vibes and relaxed comedy without thinking too much about how few relationships at that age work out.
Much to its credit, Love Story is not the cliche tale of an unpopular kid’s rise to normalcy. Takeo actually has plenty of friends and is a quite vocal extrovert. He’s merely at the age where he doesn’t yet have enough life experience to enable him to recognize a good thing when it’s right in front of him. Through his new relationship we see him learning simple day-to-day things like texting, but also exploring broader aspects of his life as he gains self-acceptance and solidifies the positive, giving aspects of his personality.
The comedic nature of the series and some groan-worthy, overconvenient plot devices lead us to believe that Love Story won’t turn into a heartbreaker for the wrong, dark reasons. If you enjoy slice of life or romance, you can curl up with your significant other (or cat) and a box of tissues and let Love Story make you forget about the rest of the world for 23 glorious minutes at a time.
Recommendation: Watch it!
Title: My Love Story!! (Ore Monogatari!!)
Original Source: Manga
Source Writer: Kazune Kawahara
Source Publisher: Shueisha
Director: Morio Asaka
Writer: Natsuko Takahashi
Music: S.E.N.S. Project
Run Start: 04/2015
Review Date: 05/2015
Episodes Reviewed: 01-04